Acer HN274H 3D monitor review

27-inch 3D monitor for desktop PCs
Photo of Acer HN274H 3D monitor
£549

An oversized PC monitor may have been – and sometimes still is – a show-off addition to a desktop, but in the 3D era a 27-inch screen, such as the Acer HN274H, is fast becoming a necessity.

That’s only true if 3D is of interest, of course – but if it is, then total immersion is perhaps the most important aspect. After all, what’s the point in striving for video that more closely mimics reality if your field of vision isn’t being filled?

Total immersion
With 50in-plus 3DTVs that are big enough to be truly immersive in a living room costing thousands, the LED-backlit HN274H LCD monitor is the ideal compromise – and perfect for a bedroom or study where an occasional blast of 3D, not to mention a huge PC monitor, would be a welcome upgrade.

Acer’s 469x648x192mm HN274H comes with a claimed 2ms response time, which is arguably just as important as the panel’s diagonal dimensions for 3D glory. Quickness is crucial when two images are being sent to the viewers’ eyes, and its 120Hz refresh rate should help create an environment where image echoes, ghosting and crosstalk noise are banished.

3D sockets
Despite the inclusion of one pair of 3D Vision active shutter 3D glasses (the P854 model, to be specific) that reveal the HN274H’s compatibility with Nvidia’s frame-packaged 3D format, the HN274H isn’t just aimed at the desktops of 3D gamers and those using 3D applications on a PC; it features three HDMI inputs (all with 1.4a spec, so 3D-ready) and an IR emitter. It can therefore also show 3D from a 3D-capable Blu-ray player or set-top box (such as the Sky+HD and Virgin Media TiVo boxes – subscriptions permitting) that uses the stereo 3D format. A 3D camera can also be attached.

There are also both 15-pin D-sub VGA and dual-link DVI sockets for day-to-day use as a 2D monitor, with the box contents including a cable for each type of video input as well as a 3.5mm single jack stereo cable for piping in PC audio.

Specifications
Armed with a claimed (and rather high-sounding) dynamic contrast ratio of 100,000,000:1 and a brightness of 300 cd/m2, this 1920×1080 pixel resolution panel is all about features, not build quality; flimsy and using the kind of gloss black chassis that is (hopefully) on the way out, the HN274H isn’t going to impress on looks alone.

It’s also worth noting that the HN274H has stereo speakers, which are not nearly powerful enough to create the sense of immersion that’s so important for 3D to succeed. In fact, that they’re not worth using at all, such is the state of the bass-free soundfield that lacks any kind of mid-range.

The user interface is as simple as it gets; a few touch-sensitive buttons on the monitor lower right-hand side offer basic options for selecting inputs, altering the speaker volume, calibrating the screen, and engaging energy-saving brightness modes.

3D performance
For impressive 3D, the panel’s 120Hz capabilities are imperative, so it’s necessary to hook-up the HN274H to a PC via a dual-link DVI, or by HDMI to a 3D Blu-ray player, PS3 or set-top box.

Key to the HN274H’s success in run-of-the-mill desktop duties as a monitor is its brightness, but it’s the lack of light that makes its 3D images so immediately involving. Don any kind of 3D glasses and the brightness takes a dive, a problem that too often makes 3D images difficult to make out on a 3DTV. That’s not the case on the HN274H, which despite a less than outstanding contrast ratio appears able to produce a highly watchable 3D image with some solid blacks and shadow detail (we used the ‘standard’ brightness mode).

It’s not perfect – we spotted some ghosting from a PlayStation 3, though arguably not enough to seriously impede game-play. Better are the results from a run-through of Avatar from a 3D Blu-ray player, which displayed bold, well-saturated colours and plenty of close-up Full HD detail in a picture that’s just so much more ‘cinematic’ than we expected.

We’ve seen £1,500 LED TVs mess up 3D before now, so the HN274H’s success is impressive indeed. There is an issue with the viewing angle, but this is a desktop-bound option, not a screen to be watched by groups.

Company: Acer

Website: http://www.box.co.uk/

Contact: Box on 0121 202 0030

Positives
  • Detail, depth, colour, contrast, clean 3D images.
Negative
  • Bland styling, high price, viewing angle.

Verdict

Acer's HN274H is an expensive - though hardly extortionate - option that brings 3D to a desktop in style.

The speakers are woeful and the design is average, but everything else about this 27in LED-backlit screen is a nice surprise; sharp and colourful in PC mode, the HN274H produces 3D images that are impressively deep and comfortable to watch.

Heavy on contrast, detail and natural colour, Acer has produced the ideal all-rounder for those who occasionally fancy a 3D movie or game but don't want to invest in an expensive 3DTV.